We have had a summer of spectacular equestrian sport, with weekends packed with top-notch competition in all corners of the country. But with Badminton and Burghley behind us, the Hickstead Derby done and dusted and the European Championship medals decided, what’s next for spectators? Andrea Oakes finds out
1. For shopaholics: Horse of the Year Show
When? 4-8 October
What? A packed programme and bustling trade stands make HOYS a one-stop shop for some serious spectating and retail therapy. There’s even a £10 “shopping only” ticket available from Wednesday-Friday for those whose sole aim is spending. With around 250 exhibitors, offering everything from equestrian jewellery to horseboxes, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
2. For thrill-seekers: Cotswold Team Chase & Country Fair
When? 29 October
Where? Nr Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
What? It’s a white-knuckle ride to the finish line for the teams brave enough to take on the legendary hedges and drops around the stunning Andoversford Estate. The novice class attracts some intrepid junior teams and the intermediate is a foot-to-the-floor dash, but the centrepiece is the open — a qualifier for the national championships and an epic battle between the sport’s bravest. It’s the final round of the league series, so expect the teams to be even more competitive than usual.
3. For globe-trotters: Argentine Open
When? 4 November-2 Decemeber
Where? Buenos Aires, Argentina
What? Jet off to sunny Buenos Aires, considered the Mecca of polo, for the Argentine Open. Billed as the greatest polo tournament on the planet, the three-week bonanza culminates in a hotly contested final in the great stadium at Palermo, known as “the cathedral of polo”.
4. For blowing the budget: Longines Global Champions Tour
When? 9-11 November
Where? Doha, Qatar
What? Since kicking off in Mexico City in April, the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) schedule is taking in another 13 venues across three continents. A thrilling finale is set to unfold in Doha, where the purpose-built Al Shaqab stadium will host the LGCT showdown for the overall individual champion and the Global Champions League (GCL) team event conclusion.
5. For a foreign flavour: Sicab
When? 14-19 November
Where? Seville, Spain
What? The stunning city of Seville hosts a yearly bash centred around the PRE — the pure-bred Spanish horse. Book yourself a bargain flight and you could be watching these flamboyant equine athletes perform in a variety of modern and more traditional disciplines, ranging from dressage and driving to the cattle-working skills of doma vaquera.
6. For that festive feeling: Olympia Horse Show
When? 12-18 December
What? Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit at Olympia, where Santa’s sleigh parades in a flurry of fake snow and the audience sings a soul-stirring rendition of The First Noel. Festivities continue with a packed programme of Christmas-themed classes, such as the Mistletoe Mini Stakes for top pony showjumpers, while seasonal treats on offer in the new Winter Market include chocolate or cheese fondues, waffles and sugared doughnuts.
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7. For celeb spotters: Heythrop Point-to-Point at Cocklebarrow Races
When? 28 January
Where? Nr Northleach, Gloucestershire
What? Rub shoulders with the stars at this popular point-to-point, where race-goers in recent years have included Jeremy Clarkson, Alex James, Giles Coren, David Cameron, John Inverdale, Jilly Cooper and Zara Phillips.Forget glamorous hats and high heels, however, as the dress code is distinctly practical — warm clothing and a decent pair of boots are more suitable for watching runners and riders tackle the three-and-three-quarter-mile national classic. The ladies’ open, over a slightly shorter course, is no less competitive.
The full article about the best spectator events for this winter was published in the 14 September 2017 issue of Horse & Hound magazine